“When we finally ‘know’ we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.”
Death: a word that many of us fear to hear, some people are barely able to speak the word without fear that it may become their reality. Death is more than just a physical process. Many people who care for those who are dying report that something other than the physiological closing down of the body’s systems happens as we begin to approach death.
It is not always easy to talk about death and dying and it is a common reaction for people so shy away from speaking about death to those who are dying or grieving for a deceased loved one.
The most important gift you can give to the dying is to listen to them. When a dying person senses that family and friends are uncomfortable talking to them about their pending death, it can be hard for them to tell you want they want or need or what they are experiencing, leaving them felling lonely and isolated, not knowing how to say goodbye.
It is a profound experience to be with someone that you love who is at the point of death. How we die is a profoundly personal journey. The goal of palliative and holistic care for people who are facing death focuses on assisting them to enjoy as good a quality of life as possible. Giving end of life care may include keeping the patient as comfortable as possible in order to relieve unnecessary suffering.
Dying may mean different things to different people, however most share a common goal and that is to die a good death. What do we mean by dying a good death? A good death is for the dying person to be free from avoidable distress and suffering, for them to be at peace and as comfortable as possible, surrounded by those closest to them.
The journey towards death is as much about getting to know yourself as any part of life. Learning to recognize ones needs – be they medical, emotional or spiritual – is something that may become more acute when facing death. Being able to identify these needs is an important part of what it means to die well.